BRIAN LAW - MUSIC DIRECTOR
Brian Law was born and educated in London. He emigrated to Canada in 1965, where he was central to the musical life of Ottawa for over a quarter of a century. He was Music Director of The Ottawa Choral Society, The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and the chamber orchestra, Thirteen Strings. At his farewell concert he was awarded the freedom of the City and the Brian Law Opera Scholarship was established in his honour. While in Canada, he quickly established and extended his reputation for excellence with the Choir of St Matthew's Church in Ottawa. It was soon acknowledged as the finest men and boys' choir in Canada.
In 1991 Brian moved to New Zealand to become Music Director of the Christchurch City Choir. He regularly conducts for the Christchurch Symphony and conducted many performances for Canterbury Opera. His influence is manifest in the considerable achievements of the Christchurch City Choir, and also through his work with orchestras, operas, youth choirs and the ChristChurch Cathedral Choir (established 1881). Now, 21 years later, his influence as a conductor, organist, harpsichordist and musical innovator has been an enriching contribution to the city's cultural life.
Brian has broadened the choral audience with innovative new works such as the commissioned bicultural work Ahua, and by bringing rarely heard masterpieces to the Town Hall such as Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Szymanowski's 3rd Symphony (Song of the Night) and Stabat Mater. He introduced new concerts, such as Music from Russia and A Night at the Opera, Sunday concerts performed in ChristChurch Cathedral and the Anzac Day concert.
His programme choices and performance standards have drawn consistent praise and a loyal audience. People feel inspired, uplifted and very proud of their City Choir, and remember performances such as Britten's cantata St Nicolas and Serenade for Solo Tenor, Horn and Strings. Audiences were taken back to original performance styles such as using a 17th century fortepiano for Haydn's The Creation, and a small orchestra for Handel's Messiah – with Brian playing the harpsichord continuo while continuing to conduct both orchestra and choir.
International Festivals and tours, special performances, large outdoor events such as Opera at the Pyramids in Egypt and Opera in the Outback, guest conducting for symphony orchestras, opera and ballet, recordings and the continued nurturing of emerging talent take up much of his calendar.
Brian Law has conducted all the regional orchestras, and has worked with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, both in the Mobil Song Quest and in seasons of The Nutcracker Suite, Petrouchka and Giselle for the New Zealand Ballet in Auckland and Wellington. His outdoor performances include Opera by Candlelight and Classical Sparks in Christchurch, and Symphony under the Stars and Opera in the Park in Auckland, attended by more than 650,000 people each year and introducing classical music in a concert format easily enjoyed by family groups.
His New Zealand discography includes a recording with the late Noel Mangin of arias by Verdi, and three recordings with Dame Malvina Major. Two of these, a live recording in concert with the Auckland Philharmonia and Casta Diva with Dame Malvina and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, were winners of the Classical Disc Award for their years. Christmastime with Dame Malvina Major was recorded in Christchurch with the City Choir, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and local young choristers.
Brian Law really does make the choir, which by rights should have all the manoeuvrability of a logging truck, corner like a fine Italian motorcycle. The speeds down the back straight, as in For Unto Us A Child Is Born, are eye-watering, the control on the hairpins in Since By Man Came Death is magnificent. - Timothy Jones
Brian Law and choir deserve the biggest bouquet for the quality of their work. The corporate sound was tight at speed, well-contrasted dynamically, and beautifully shaped - as much a testimony to Law’s training as to the choir’s familiarity with the material. - Philip Norman
Christmas means another Messiah. Brian Law’s crisp tempos with a small flexible orchestra and the Choir - soloists, four specialists, each with a voice of real personality with diaries packed with impressive engagements at the world's greatest musical venues - made this a Messiah to remember. - Timothy Jones
Click here to hear Brian preview the Gala Concert and the 2012 season with Eva Radich on Radio New Zealand Concert’s Upbeat on Monday 23 April 2012.